University of Maryland Extension

Native Plant Essentials Online Class


Important Notice!

Please be advised that this online course will be removed on
January 4, 2019
for revisions.

If you wish to take the course, please complete Part 1 - 9 no later than January 3, 2019.

 Native Plants Logo

Welcome to the online version of Maryland Master Gardeners' introductory native plants class. Although the class was written with Master Gardeners in mind, it is available to everyone.

The course is organized into separate lessons. To navigate from one lesson to the next, use the table of contents (in the right side bar). Or, if you prefer, when you reach the bottom of any page, use the navigation bar there. It will let you go to the previous lesson, the next lesson, or will return you to this page (the "up" link). 

To enjoy all the features of this course, you will need access to an internet connection that is good enough to download files and watch video.

The entire course will take approximately six hours to complete, but you can proceed at your own pace. Lesson content is introductory in nature, and you might want to explore some issues in more depth. One of the wonderful things about working with native plants is that they provide a lifetime of enjoyment and discovery. For those of you that want to follow up and/or learn more,  the Resources Page will be a useful place to begin. 

By the end of this class you will be able to...

  • Understand native plants in the context of their ecosystems.
  • Teach the meaning of “native plant” and discuss the history of Maryland’s ecosystems.
  • Teach why native plants are important and what their preservation and success mean for all of us.
  • Work with native plants in disturbed landscapes.
  • Teach the major threats to native plant communities. 
  • Direct the public to available literature and appropriate native plant lists.
  • Discuss the future of our wild plant populations and our gardens, and how they are tied together.

Would you like to count this class as continuing education hours?

This class will count as 6 hours of continuing education.


1) Complete Parts 1-8 of the course
2) For Part 1, submit your NPE Pre-Course Mock Shop Exercise answers to Sara Tangren (
3) For Part 8, submit your NPE Post-Course Mock Shop Exercise answers to Sara Tangren.  

Your first assignment

The best way to learn about native plants is to go out and see them for yourself. Your first assignment is to schedule a native plant hike. Look for one in the same general area where you do your extension work and your gardening. Here are two useful resources:

  1. Visit the websites of nearby parks, or call them, and find out what is available. Many offer guided hikes. Some have marked trails that offer interpretive information about plant species and native plant communities.  
  2. Visit the Maryland Native Plant Society website and check out the "Events" tab. They have free hikes almost every week of the year, some may be in a natural area near you.

You are now welcome to begin with Part 1 (see links below).

Navigate this course

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